Oreochromis mossambicus (Peters 1852) are native to the eastward flowing rivers of central and southern Africa but from the early 1930s they have been widely distributed around the world for aquaculture and for biological control of weeds and insects. While O. mossambicus are now not commonly used as an aquaculture species, the biological traits that made them a popular culture species including tolerance to wide ranging ecological conditions, generalist dietary requirements and rapid reproduction with maternal care have also made them a 'model' invader. Self-sustaining populations now exist in almost every region to which they have been imported. In Australia, since their introduction in the 1970s, O. mossambicus have become established in catchments along the east and west coasts and have the potential to colonise other adjacent drainages. It is thought that intentional translocations are likely to be the most significant factor in their spread in Australia. The ecological and physical tolerances and preferences, reproductive behaviour, hybridization and the high degree of plasticity in the life history traits of O. mossambicus are reviewed. Impacts of O. mossambicus on natural ecosystems including competitive displacement of native species, habitat alteration, predation and as a vector in the spread of diseases are discussed. Potential methods for eradicating or controlling invasive populations of O. mossambicus including physical removal, piscicides, screens, environmental management and genetic technologies are outlined. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.